This lovely image of Marilyn performing for US troops in Korea during her morale-boosting 1954 tour, taken by photo-journalist Eddie Adams, is featured in a new book, Eddie Adams: Bigger Than the Frame, reports The Guardian.
Among Marilyn’s possessions were many items of sentimental value. She kept this ballerina paperweight in her New York apartment next to a framed photo of 1920s Broadway star Marilyn Miller, who inspired her own stage name. In a strange twist of fate, she would also become ‘Marilyn Miller’ after her third marriage. She later gave the paperweight to her friend and masseur, Ralph Roberts, calling it “the other Marilyn.”
This silver-tone St Christopher pendant was a gift from Natasha Lytess, Marilyn’s drama coach from 1948-54. (St Christopher is the patron saint of travellers.) Marilyn cut ties with Lytess after discovering she was writing a book about their friendship. She later gave the pendant to Ralph Roberts, telling him, “I’ve outgrown Natasha.”
This gold and silver-tone Gemini pendant reflects Marilyn’s close identification with her astrological sign, symbolised by twin faces. “I’m so many people,” she told journalist W.J. Weatherby. “Sometimes I wish I was just me.”
Marilyn was exceedingly generous to her friends, as the story behind this bracelet reveals.
“A rhinestone bracelet owned by Marilyn Monroe and gifted to Vanessa Reis, the sister-in-law to May Reis, Monroe’s personal assistant and secretary. In a letter to the consigner dated November 28, 1994, Ralph Roberts writes, ‘Reference Marilyn robe and bracelet. As best I recall, late one Saturday afternoon Marilyn and I were in the dining area of the Miller 9th floor suite at the Mapes Hotel. She had just changed into a robe, sitting on one of the chairs and I was massaging her back and shoulders. She showed me a bracelet she’d brought to Reno with thought of possibly wearing it as a [undecipherable comment] for Roslyn [Monroe’s character in The Misfits]. Upon discussing it, she and Paula [Paula Strasberg was Monroe’s acting coach and friend] had decided somehow it wouldn’t be appropriate. Just then May Reis entered with Vanessa Reis (the widow of Irving Reis, May’s greatly loved brother and film director). Vanessa had come up from LA for a long weekend visit – there’d been some talk of our going out to some of the casinos to do a bit of gambling. Vanessa told Marilyn how lovely she looked in that robe. Marilyn thanked her + impulsively held out the bracelet, Take this + wear it as a good luck charm. I was wearing it during dance rehearsals for Let’s Make Love, smashed into a prop, so a stone is loosened. I wish I could go with you, but Raffe is getting some Misfits knots out. And I should go over that scene coming up Monday. They left. Marilyn asked me to remind her to have the robe cleaned to give to Vanessa. Whitey, Agnes, May – all of us – knew from experience we couldn’t compliment Marilyn on any personal items or had to be very careful. She’d be compulsive about giving it, or getting a copy – to you.’ Accompanied by a copy of the letter.”
Jack Dempsey, a former world heavyweight champion boxer, wrote to Joe DiMaggio’s New York Yankees teammate, Jerry Coleman, in 1954. “Have been reading a lot about Marilyn, Joe and yourself, here in the east,” Dempsey remarked. “Best of luck to you and your family, and send Marilyn’s autograph along.”
This small pine-cone Christmas tree, held together with wire and dusted in glitter, was given to Marilyn as a surprise by Joe DiMaggio one year when she had no plans, or decorations. Christmas can be a lonely time, and Joe made sure to bring some cheer.
This vintage Hallmark card was sent to Marilyn one Christmas by her favourite singer, Ella Fitzgerald.
Author Truman Capote sent Marilyn a personally inscribed 1959 album of himself reading ‘A Christmas Memory‘ (an excerpt from his famous novella, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.)
Marilyn owned a leather-bound, monogrammed copy of Esquire magazine’s July 1953 issue, featuring an article about herself titled “The ‘Altogether’ Girl.”
Marilyn’s 1954 trip to Korea to entertain American troops was one of her happiest memories. This photo shows her with the band and is accompanied by a letter from George Sweers of the St Petersburg Times, sent after their chance reunion when Marilyn took a short break in Florida in 1961.
This endearing note accompanied a gift from Marilyn to Paula Strasberg, who replaced Natasha Lytess as her acting coach in 1956: “Dear Paula, I’m glad you were born because you are needed. Your warmth is both astonishing and welcomed. Love & Happy Birthday, Marilyn.”
In April 1955, novelist John Steinbeck wrote a letter to Marilyn, asking her to sign a photo for his young nephew.
“In my whole experience I have never known anyone to ask for an autograph for himself. It is always for a child or an ancient aunt, which gets very tiresome as you know better than I. It is therefore, with a certain nausea that I tell you that I have a nephew-in-law … he has a foot in the door of puberty, but that is only one of his problems. You are the other. … I know that you are not made of ether, but he doesn’t. … Would you send him, in my care, a picture of yourself, perhaps in pensive, girlish mood, inscribed to him by name and indicating that you are aware of his existence. He is already your slave. This would make him mine. If you will do this, I will send you a guest key to the ladies’ entrance of Fort Knox.”
Television host Edward K. Murrow sent Marilyn a Columbia Records album, featuring excerpts from speeches by Sir Winston Churchill, in November 1955. She had been a guest on Murrow’s CBS show, Person to Person, a few months previously.
Marilyn’s custom-bound edition of Arthur Miller’s Collected Plays included a personal dedication. Miller had drafted a fuller tribute, but it was nixed – possibly because his first divorce was not final when it was published.
“This book is being written out of the courage, the widened view of life, the awareness of love and beauty, given to me by my love, my wife-to-be, my Marilyn. I bless her for this gift, and I write it so that she may have from me the only unique thing I know how to make. I bless her, I owe her the discovery of my soul.”
Costume designer Donfeld sent Marilyn this handmade birthday card one year, together with a small note that read, “M – I hope this finds you well and happy – My thoughts are with you now – Love, Feld.”
This engraved cigarette case was given by Marilyn to Joe DiMaggio during their post-honeymoon trip to Japan in 1954.
This souvenir brochure for the small town of Bement, Illinois was signed by Marilyn when she made a surprise appearance in 1955, during a festival marking the centennial of an historic visit by her idol, Abraham Lincoln.
Comedian Ernie Kovacs sent this rather cheeky letter to Marilyn in 1961. He would die in a tragic car crash in January 1962, aged 43, followed by Marilyn in August.
“The letter, addressed to ‘Marilyneleh’, invites Monroe to a get together at his home on June 15, giving the dress code as ‘… slacks or if you want to be chic, just spray yourself with aluminum paint or something.’ He continues, ‘I’ll try to find someone more mature than Carl Sandburg for you. … if Frank is in town, will be asking him. … don’t be a miserable shit and say you can’t come. … Look as ugly as possible cause the neighbors talk if attractive women come into my study.’ He signs the letter in black pen ‘Ernie’ and adds a note at the bottom: ‘If you don’t have any aluminum paint, you could back into a mud pack and come as an adobe hut. … we’ll make it a costume party. … Kovacs.'”
Always gracious to her fans, Marilyn gave child actress Linda Bennett a magazine clipping with the inscription, “I saw you in The Seven Little Foys. Great – Marilyn Monroe.” She also signed this photograph, “Dear Linda, I wish you luck with your acting. Love and kisses, Marilyn Monroe Miller.”
One of Marilyn’s most iconic dresses, rarely seen today, is currently on display as part of Twentieth Century Fox Presents Marilyn Monroe, the new exhibition at Bendigo Art Gallery, as Scott Fortner reports for his MM Collection blog.
“Many of the items on exhibit have been seen around the world, including the US, Italy, Germany, Japan, Canada, Spain and Prague. However, one item in particular hasn’t been seen by the public in over 20 years, and that’s the striking purple gown that Marilyn Monroe wore throughout her Korean USO tour in 1954 when she performed for US troops stationed there. Marilyn is often quoted as saying performing in Korea was one of the highlights of her life.
The dress and matching bolero jacket, owned by a private collector in Australia, is quite simply, stunning. It sparkles in the light today exactly as it must have in February of ’54 as Marilyn sang ‘Diamonds are a girl’s best friend’ in front of thousands of US servicemen in freezing temperatures. It was an absolute thrill to see this treasure live and in person. And for those who may doubt it’s the actual Korea USO dress, I’ve done a bit of analysis, and I’m convinced it’s THE dress Marilyn owned and wore throughout her USO tour. Many have speculated the whereabouts of this dress, yet those of us ‘in the know’ have known it was in the hands of a private collector in Australia. His generosity in sharing the gown with the public is greatly appreciated.”
George Burgtorf of Saramac, Michigan, has shared his memories – and photos – of meeting Marilyn as a young sergeant stationed in Korea during her morale-boosting 1954 visit, in an interview with the Ionia Sentinel-Standard.
“George Burgtorf of Saranac was a 20-year-old sergeant in the United States Army’s 2nd Infantry on a cold day in February 1954 when Marilyn Monroe performed in the Chorwon Valley during the Korean War. He carried with him a small Brownie camera and a pass that granted him access to everywhere, except the top secret code room, that is.
He was nearby when she landed by helicopter at the camp and later he ate lunch with the movie star and dozens of other service men in the mess hall. In the afternoon, he was near the front when she went on stage and performed several songs.
‘She spoke to most of us, she just said, Hi,’ Burgtorf said. ‘She seemed very nice.’
‘The food was generally very good at the mess hall. She seemed to enjoy herself.’
Burgtorf’s job was taking care of telephone communications for the army. It brought him close to generals, movie stars and future president Gerald Ford.
‘I could get into any building because of the telephone,’ Burgtorf said. ‘The mess hall was really just a tent, and I was the only one with a camera that day.’
He said he saw one or two other USO performances with the 2nd Infantry at the Bulldozer Bowl, but he doesn’t remember who performed other than Monroe, which stands out in his mind.
‘It was many years ago,’ Burgtorf said. ‘It was very, very cold that day. I think they must have had a heater blowing towards the stage, because she was in some skimpy clothes.’
‘We were right in the valley, there were mountains on both sides of everything.’
Burgtorf said after Monroe performed she quickly got onto a helicopter and went to perform another show.’She was on a very tight schedule,’ he said.”
Following the Snickers ad featuring Marilyn and Willem Dafoe, last night’s Superbowl included two further references to MM. The first was a coda to the Snickers ad, with Eugene Levy playing the ‘fan guy’, reports Adweek. (And if you’re wondering how Marilyn made it into the original clip, Bustle has some suggestions.)
“‘You wouldn’t have Hollywood history without the fan guy,’ Levy said in a statement. ‘It was an honor to portray one of Tinsel Town’s forgotten heroes. Marilyn Monroe might’ve been looking down at him, but every guy in America was looking up to that stage hand.'”
Meanwhile, Alfred Eisenstadt’s 1953 portrait of Marilyn – representing beauty – appeared in another Superbowl commercial for Fiat Chrysler’s Jeep brand, AdAge reports. This is not a first – footage of Marilyn was used in Bob Dylan’s Chrysler ad for the Superbowl back in 2014.
“‘Portraits,” which aired during the halftime show, looks backwards, weaving in references to Jeep’s 1941 roots as a military vehicle created for Allied soldiers in World War II. The spot uses 60 images from around the world, including photos of famous people who have links to Jeep … Ms. Monroe — who also starred posthumously in a Snickers Super Bowl ad this year — is connected to Jeep via a honeymoon trip she took to Korea with Joe DiMaggio in the wake of the Korean War.”
Marilyn graces the cover of Homeland magazine’s February issue, marking the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Services Organisation (USO), which brought her to Korea back in 1954. There is another photo inside, and she is mentioned briefly in an article about the USO. For details on how to obtain a copy, send an email to email@example.com
86 year-old George Purifoy of Franklin Park, Illinois, has shared his memory of meeting Marilyn during her 1954 USO tour of Korea with TribLive News.
“It’s 10 a.m., and the breakfast club of old friends meets at a Panera Bread restaurant in the North Hills. They come daily, to share news, discuss current events, drink coffee and listen to stories.
Purifoy, 86, of Franklin Park has many. They’re all there, his wife, Jane Purifoy, explains. But sometimes they need coaxing.
‘Tell the one about Marilyn Monroe,’ she says to her husband.
‘Where’s it start?’ he asks.
‘With Bob Hope,’ Jane Purifoy says.
‘Oh, yes,’ he nods. ‘OK.’
This story is set in Korea, where Purifoy was serving with the Air Force during the war.
Bob Hope visited the troops. He brought Marilyn Monroe. She toured a plane — specifically, Purifoy’s F-84 Thunderjet, a single-seat fighter he named ‘The Marilyn.’
He opened the canopy for her, explained the cockpit controls. She asked for a ride.
Problem was, Purifoy told her, it’s only got one seat. But there was a two-seater on the base, and he could fly her around in that one. So she got fitted for flying gear while George readied himself to take the legendary model, actress and American icon into the Korean skies.
Before they could take off, though, an old, grizzled major stopped him.
‘George, you know, I don’t usually do this,’ the major said. ‘But I’m going to pull rank on you today. I’ll fly her. But all is not lost. You can strap her in.’
‘And I did. She was a beautiful woman.'”
The upcoming Hollywood Auction 74 at Profiles in History contains some interesting Marilyn-related items, mainly on Day 2 (September 30.)
Korea is sometimes described as a ‘forgotten war’, and the involvement of British troops has been overlooked. Joseph Scott, who was just eighteen when he joined the Cameron Highlanders in Korea, has shared his memories of the conflict – and the unforgettable day in 1954 when Marilyn Monroe visited his base – in an interview with Scotland’s Greenock Telegraph.
“Grandfather Joseph, 80, of Kilblain Court said: ‘I have been a huge fan ever since.’
‘She came on stage and she didn’t even have to sing. She just stood there and everyone was cheering. There were thousands of soldiers and nobody had seen a woman for years!’
‘I was friends with a couple of Americans and they got me in to see it. It was incredible. She was a beautiful woman but I don’t even think I knew who she was back then.’
Joseph’s wife Catherine, who he met after he left the army, has been happy to share her life with Marilyn. Over the years Joseph has collected a number of photographs of the icon.
Catherine, 77, said: ‘Joseph is her biggest fan. Our grandchildren have bought him lots of canvas prints of Marilyn and I let him put them up!’
Joseph was posted in Korea along with his regiment the Cameron Highlanders after signing up at 18.
He said: ‘There was nothing in Greenock for young people my age. It was a desperate place, so I decided to join the Army.’
During his spell in the forces he was also diverted from Korea to the Suez Canal crisis.”
Joseph B. Dalton, who served in the US Army, remembers Marilyn’s flying visit to South Korea, shortly after the Korean War ended in February 1954, in an article for Florida Today.
“I was supposed to have the day off but our sergeant came in and told a couple of us to get dressed, because a VIP was coming in shortly and we would be doing crowd control.
Soon after, a helicopter came over the hill and landed. The door opened and who should step out but Marilyn Monroe, all dressed up in a parka and combat boots. What a surprise.
When she was on the ground, she posed for pictures. Me and another MP [Military Policeman] named Grant from Tennessee were standing just in back of an officer. He turned around and told us to take Miss Monroe up to the general’s office, so we got on each side of the actress and escorted her. Cameras were going off all over the place.
She had just gotten married to Joe DiMaggio (who stayed in Japan so as not to distract from her visit. Oh, yeah, they were on their honeymoon). When she came out of the general’s office, she posed for more pictures with the general.
She then went to the enlisted men’s mess hall for a quick lunch with the troops. We then escorted her to the Bulldozer Bowl — a makeshift stadium GIs had carved out of the ground — where she was to do her show. There were two dressing rooms back stage. When she came out, the parka and combat boots were replaced with a blue sequenced cocktail dress.
This is February, mind you, and everyone is bundled up, but she was in a dress.
I happened to be standing behind her when more pictures were being taken (many years later, my son found some of those picture on a poster, which is on my wall at home).
When she went out on stage the crowd erupted. The whole hillside was packed with GIs. Myself and Grant went around front and I got a movie camera from a friend and captured some great footage. The only trouble was it wasn’t his camera, so I never got to see the movie. I heard it was great.
She must have been on stage for almost an hour singing all the songs she was noted for from her movies. After the show was over, she went back stage and changed into her warm clothes. We escorted her to a jeep that was to take her to the next division where she was to do another show.”